This is the second in a series of posts exploring some of the more common concerns I see raised in the debate to allow urban chickens. (first post: what to do with the poop)
Today's topic: How are we going to enforce these new urban chicken laws? (ie, how will we pay for it?)
The costs to enforce ordinances vary widely from town to town and city to city, so coming up with an exact number is difficult, at best.
For context, let's remember our post about Missoula, MT's first year of pro-chicken ordinances went. The Animal Control officer said himself, "I was worried that there would be a lot of complaints, but it seems to be going all right" (14 complaints in the entire year). Doesn't sound like much, does it? But this one piece of evidence about a town in the middle of the country might not help you.
So, there's a line of reasoning you can use to show how little incremental cost will be incurred in enforcing urban chicken codes in your city.
Check with your city's animal control office to find out how many dog complaints came in last year and do a comparison of complaints per dog and forecast that same rate out for chickens to see how many complaints you'd be adding to the workload of animal control.
Example: 10,000 dog owners in your town generated 200 dog complaints which equals a 2% complaint rate.
If you assume the same complaint rate for chickens, you'd need to have at least 50 chicken owners before the first complaint was lodged. (2% of 50 = 1)
And just how many people are clamoring to get chickens in the first year, anyway? Are these the kinds of folks who'd be creating a nuisance situation with their urban chickens? No. Likely, these are the folks who'll be the most careful and over-communicate with their neighbors so as to avoid any kind of complaint made to animal control.
Besides, how much extra is one enforcement visit compared to the case load already handled by animal control? (I think it's small, at best)
Are there other lines of reasoning you can think to use? Anyone out there know the exact cost of an enforcement call?